Episode 17 - How I Thrived and Survived Cancer while Managing Medical Menopause | Rachel Cooper KennedyAug 03, 2021
“Knowledge is power, but actually understanding when, where, and with whom to share that knowledge is wisdom.” - Rachel Cooper Kennedy
Cancer is one of the most feared medical conditions in the world. So much so that many people avoid mentioning the dreaded ‘C’ word.
Is it right that we feel ashamed? Or that we whisper about it in conversations for fear of being shunned or pitied by others? Do we really have the information we need to protect ourselves and our bodies?
And what about those on their own cancer journey- do they have someone to talk to about it?
In this episode of the podcast, Eleshia is joined by the inspirational Rachel Cooper Kennedy, a natural lifestyle coach, essential oils guide, and host of the radio programme “Natural Solutions Show”.
They bravely open up the discussion about cancer, sharing all those nitty-gritty details such as the hardest decision that Rachel made in her life, her fears, and dealing with the emotional trauma.
From seeing the symptoms to paying attention to the signals that her body is showing her, she learned to accept the changes in her body that she needed to go through to conquer breast cancer.
Rachel’s story is powerful as it is something that many cancer patients and survivors experience.
Tune in as both women share the benefits of natural oils, green cleaning, academic approach to fasting, oxygen therapy, the keto diet, and how they all work together.
If you know anybody who’s going through their diagnosis and might need deeper support, share this episode with them! The only way we can help is by creating a safe space to talk, providing the support they need, and letting others learn from their experiences.
You can also check out Rachel’s favourite book here.
- You have to be your detective. These professionals are part of your team, but you are the boss- they don't run everything.
- It's just about knowing that you need your healing. We all need to heal, and we all need to help.
We also learned so many lessons from Rachel:
- Many don't talk enough about the impact and importance of having close women around you like your inner circle to tap into to support you through that period.
- If you're having that dance with your hormones and you are trying to do the work without supporting yourself naturally, never addressing the chemicals in your home and those on your body, you're reaching out for something with one hand and taking it back with the other.
- To me, understanding the academic approach to fasting, oxygen therapy, keto diet, and how they all work together is important. They're not necessarily going to be exactly right for everybody, but if you don't know anything about it, it's a great place to start.
About the Guest:
Rachel Cooper is a natural lifestyle coach, essential oils guide, and radio show host of the “Natural Solutions Show”. She is also a breast cancer survivor, and currently a cancer support coach to holistic professionals. Currently, Rachel shares her story and supports women by finding natural solutions for their home and health, emotional and physical support using therapeutic grade essential oils.
Connect with Rachel:
About the Show:
The Eleshia Show is an exciting new podcast that helps empower female business owners to put their well-being first whilst building their businesses. Tune in every Wednesday as my inspiring guests and I discuss strategies, share stories and experiences and dive into how you can build your business whilst trying to navigate real life. The host, Eleshia Harris is here and ready to share her decades of project management and wellness experience to help you start saying ‘Yes!’ to your business and life.
Eleshia: When I decided to launch the podcast, I knew I wanted to have Rachel on as a guest to discuss her breast cancer diagnosis and what she did to help to support herself. But I also knew it was going to be a hard conversation to broach because, for most of you, you know that my mom died from cancer. So revisiting some of the similarities that they both had was really quite insightful for me. I am so happy that Rachel and I had a chance to have this conversation. We have not really spoken about her diagnosis before, so I'm really grateful that she was so honest and so open with regards to how she was feeling, how other people made her feel, and what she did to really support herself, her family, and the people around her, and what amazing work she's doing now to help another holistic therapist to support their clients as well. So here's a little bit more about Rachel.
Rachel, also known as Rachel C.K., is a natural lifestyle coach, essential oils guide, and a radio host, author of the Natural Solution Show. She loves to help you find natural solutions for your home and health, emotional and physical support. Upgrading your joy is her business. She really enjoys helping you find natural solutions for your home health, emotional and physical support using therapeutic grade essential oils. She naturally supports women’s post-cancer diagnosis, helping them by sharing her personal story of how she naturally supported herself through treatment and onwards.
I really enjoyed our conversation. It gave me so much perspective of how my mom must have felt going through her diagnosis. I was on the other side as her carer, but having spoken to Rachel and really understanding from her perspective how she felt was really eye-opening for me and really helpful. I really hope you enjoy this conversation, and if there's anybody that you know who would benefit from this information or maybe speaking to Rachel, please share this episode with them.
Rachel, it's so good to have you here with me today. I want to say that we met in 2016-2017 when I was trying to conceive, and I came to you to do a Green Clean Program with you because I was really interested about getting rid of all of the toxins in my life to ensure that I had a really good start to conceive. Our relationship just grew from there. Our lives intertwined over the years and I've got to know you a little bit more. I just wanted you to come on to the podcast to share your story, tell people what you do and let's just get into the conversation about all of it.
Rachel: Eleshia you're right because our lives have intertwined, and so many big things in our lives have happened.
I'm Rachel C.K. I'm essentially Rachel U.K. I'm an essential guide. I'm a cancer support coach to holistic professionals, and I'm also a radio show host of which I'm thrilled that you're going to come on my radio show too, so that's amazing as well. I'm so thrilled to be here, thank you so much for inviting me. I guess the bit on the end of that, of who I am and what I do is that I'm a breast cancer thriver and survivor. I share my story, support other women in being well and staying well, and then also supporting them shift things, go a bit awry and things occur in their life that they need help and support with.
If the women that receive that cancer diagnosis, but more focused as well on supporting holistic therapists that support or the women that come through their doors share that heartbreaking news of I've been diagnosed with cancer, because in a lot of times it can scare them off, scare them away. They don't feel that they understand enough about it. They don't know about the treatment. Who do they ask? They can't ask their clients because it's all too close to home. So I have put myself in the position of I've always shared my story, I knew right from when that very first happened back in 2018, I was going to share this journey.
And the reason for that was that I'd already been living for a number of years, understanding the burnout that I've been through, the impact of my having IVF to have my son and him, not sleeping for the first three years. We don't know on Earth what was going on and what have we done?
Eleshia: I was there for two weeks. I remember those first two weeks.
Rachel: And also so many moms do because they are not necessarily very well-prepared. There's all of that bit that we don't talk about enough of, this is the impact and actually the importance of having those close women around you, your own inner circle to tap into, to support you through that period. So there was all of that as well, which is where I met our mutual friend, the amazing Mairi, whose series everyone's listened to. She's been an absolute shining light in my world and my healing, and all of the paths that that relationship set me on.
What happened is I got these incredible essential oils in my life, in my world and that opened up a door, opened up a world to me that I didn't even really know very much about, and I didn't know existed. I absolutely immersed myself in that world. Learning about that, about supporting your hormones and the impact that chemicals around your home and on your body are never beneficial, but they can have a big impact on your endocrine system, disrupting your hormones. Therefore they're exacerbating your feelings of anxiety, to your sleep, potentially disrupting so many things going on naturally in your body, which is where we met because you were conscious of if they can have that kind of impact on your body and your mental wellbeing and I want to be the best version of me that I can be, to be able to conceive, that's where our journey started. We were talking about green cleaning. I know there are some people that if they see my social media or hear me talking, they try to join the dots in between, and support holistic therapists with cancer. It's not that hard when you understand how chemicals can work in your body. It's not that hard to join the dots, but if you're new to this or new to wanting to support your body naturally, go and clean and can feel a long way from supporting you and you're completely losing it with your kids. Or you're awake at night, or you're suddenly feeling triggered by everything and anxious by everything.
If you're having that dance with your hormones and you are trying to do the work without supporting yourself naturally but never address the chemicals in your home, all the chemicals going on your body, you're actually reaching out for something with one hand and taking it back with the other.
So we need to stress these things and raise the awareness of how these things are around our home, on the biggest of our organs which is our skin, they're absorbing all of that. When I do my workshop, which is essentially calm and beautiful, and I always get this jaw-drop moment, which I love like the mic drop moment when I take the ladies around my table as they were, and we'll be again or online and we say, okay so let's just go through our little simple exercise.
Just tell me, how many things do you use in the morning? So when you get off, you're going to, let's say it's a time when you're going out. So it's not just to change pajamas for clean pajamas and don't leave the house. We're getting up, we're having a shower, we're using shampoo, conditioner, we're using a shower gel with them.
Then get out of the shower. You use your deodorant. Some people, on average, do about five things of makeup. You can get up to about 17 things for some people when they're going out and they're doing all the things. Hair products on. All of the things, they might wash up things from breakfast, and then they're going to clean the sides.
Just on average, if somebody was to use 17 items, what not many people know is there's this study done in America on this whole range of products. Some of them were even labeled nontoxic, organic, and chemical-free. They were tested and found to still have in that group of 25 products on average, 17 chemicals. So that's the magic number. 17 times 17, that's just in your morning. 289 chemicals that you've been exposed to, and you wonder why you're feeling anxious, your hormones are out of whack, your hair's falling out, you're not sleeping well, you're losing your shizzle with all the people around you, but that's just one morning.
If you go to work and come back and you're going out that night, you're about to double up because you are going to do it all again. More lipstick, more perfume. So the world of essential oils opened me to making more myself, picking up from where I could on where they were made. I knew exactly what was in them. They were natural. I smell amazing. I have done this for the last five years. As do you, and you're using them because that's our natural perfume. But we're not just using the oils, we're actually getting those physical, emotional benefits. Now, when we fast forward, I know all of that now. I've been using that for a few years. I've been teaching the women around me, and then comes October of 2018. Just at the point when my child's sleeping, everything's going well, I've just hit my stride, and I continue to feel a lump in my left breast. I'm going, well it's coming and going with my period and I've been told cancer doesn't hurt.
I've been told it doesn't even hurt. It's not, so that's all right. It's just coming and going with my period, breastfeeding is a bit tender. And I went away for a lovely weekend with a big group of girlfriends, and one of my really, really, really good friends that I always share a room with. I had this conversation with her. I think there's something here but I don't know if it's my mind playing for me. Can you feel it? Now, we're the kind of friends where it's like, yes, of course, I can feel it. We all have that kind of friend. I hope we all have that kind of friend, and God loves her, I'm putting her in that position of shame. She's going to say, nah and no, that wasn't the response. The response was that I can feel something. That started this ball rolling.
At the start, it was like a wrecking ball throughout my entire life. Hence through every relationship, I had through my scrambling to hold it all together and also expecting my entire world to fall apart. It didn't, it didn't because I knew that I had so many tools to support me and my family emotionally through this, but I also knew I was done and will find all the others that were going to support me naturally. Because we then had to have this conversation after the official diagnosis.
We then had to have the conversation of, are you suggesting that I'm going to have chemotherapy? Of course, the answer was yes. That is generally the answer unless it's caught really, really, really, really early. And that's the big thing around getting women comfortable with feeling their bodies. Having holistic therapists and enabling them, accompanying them in getting comfortable with their bodies and then feeling their bodies at the same time and knowing what feels normal, what's new? And the minute there's something new, we get checked out. We don't wait.
Eleshia: And not ignoring the signs.
Rachel: Not ignoring the signs, and those signs can be anywhere. Obviously, mine was breast cancer. Those signs can beat men or women for breast cancer up in your neck., all the nodes in your neck onto your chin, in your collarbone, in your armpit. By the time that I acknowledged that something is going on here, I had a tennis ball in my boob. It felt like there was something. Now, that wasn't actually what was inside. My body was protecting itself and had this more dense area around two tumors, so it made it a much more dense area which is why I ended up having a mastectomy because it wasn't a little something they could take out. But they were no more than one and a half centimeters, and at that size detectable that there were two of them, that was the process that needed to happen.
That was the biggest and hardest decision I've ever made in my life, as someone that lived entirely, almost entirely, not trying to make any impressions of perfection anywhere. Almost entirely naturally supporting my body for everything using these incredible oils, we no longer had the medicine cabinet. We don't need it because we found that support and help for everything in these oils that I had to really, really lean into knowing that if that was the best, the medical element had to offer, so I was sure as hell I will going to go find the best that every other natural person/modality could offer.
I built these seven columns around myself of scaffolding, of support, oxygen therapy, these incredible essential oils and supplements, having Reiki, having the emotional support that I needed, juicing, all of these things that I used that are actually all there for scaffolding me through the medical treatment.
Eleshia: I love that you said that because for me, you know my story with my mom, and I wish I'd had the essential oils as a supplement as well. But you're right, I did the same. I knew she was going to have to have chemotherapy, but I knew there were things that I could do also to support that. Yeah, I'm glad we're having this conversation because I want people to know that we're not saying to not do the medical route, but we're saying that there are other ways to really support you as well.
Rachel: And your family, because it takes a village. It takes a village to support somebody that's been diagnosed through this journey. And the other thing that I think is really important for people to hear is we're not referring to the disease. We're not referring to that physical element. What I'm really referring to is that mental, emotional, spiritual support through what will be probably the worst time ever in that woman's life. It will also go down as the worst time in the life of the friends and the family too. The ones that feel that can stay, and this is the other big thing for me, because not many of those ladies' friends, family, even therapists, which is where I'm headed, feel confident enough, feel that they have the ability to cope.
That's really important now for me, for those people that are in the holistic therapist, they're often told that you can't go to them. You can't do that anymore. Or they themselves feel the need to take a step back, they're not sure what this means. They're not sure what treatment entails. They're not sure how either their modality or someone else that they can direct to can really, really support. It can be life-changing to have that support in your life.
And that was what I felt, but what I've also felt is that being asked to come back later, or somebody just withdrawing through fear. And the fear is only there not knowing, so my mission, my message is you will always have somebody to talk to. People dive into books a lot. That author isn't there for you to answer those questions. Very rarely, do you have access to the person that wrote that?
My experience was intended to be a book and then I went: You know what, stop the press because I need to be right there with these people that want to know more about how I supported myself, who else supported me? I signed post anyone that talks to me about all of these incredible women and organizations around me. It took me months and months and months alone in my room with a sore wrist, with a dictionary, with notebook after notebook, to understand the language of why I needed to uncover. You asked me what one of my favorite books was, and this one book was the thing that changed my entire experience. I'm going to grab it, it's called Tripping Over the Truth.
This to me, you could take the first concert and you know how I got this book? Because my brother sent it to me. I would never ever have had that story my entire life, and you're not the academic one. You're the creative one. My brother sent me this book, I was: Are you kidding me? I thought: You know what, Rachel, you want to get through this? So we're now looking down the barrel of a gun, that's how I felt. That's how I've described it. I've been diagnosed with this unless I do something about this.
To be honest, we never knew how this was going to work out. For my son and my family, my husband, I was sure that I was helping him do everything that I possibly could. I drew everything into the best fact that everyone has to offer. So this book was the start of me appreciating that you do have a brain and it does work. You're not just great on all the creative stuff. That opened a whole other world to me of understanding the academic approach to fasting, to oxygen therapy, to the keto diet, how they all work together. They're not necessarily going to be exactly right for everybody, but if you don't know anything about any of it, it's a great place to start. I think if you're a therapist and have never heard of anything about oxygen therapy, that's a great place to send your client because that works on such a cellular level. It doesn't like oxygen, it doesn't like sugar either.
Eleshia: Thank you. Thank you because that was one of the biggest things that me and my mom, and can say this, that me and my mom battled because the medication that she was on loved to sugar. She would get these real rage and sugar cravings, and that was hard for me because you don't want to take everything away from this person who's going through chemo and then is on a load of tablets as well, and you have to tell them that you can't eat that. That's not great. But we got to a compromise.
Rachel: And I was just going to say, and that's what you do is that when those things are happening, we make switches. We have them ready. We have them ready that if it's not entirely removing sugar out of your life entirely, which I endeavored to do is that we have swapped. So adding pineapple to anything is great. So we can switch. No images of perfection for anybody, please. But if we can make some switches, which is that you can switch one thing, and this is all in. We learn in time. If I knew everything I knew now and rewind a little bit, I wouldn't have ended up with that diagnosis in the first place, but you know what? I don't even know why. I don't. I live right now, this was the journey I was given, and I had to learn this so that I can impact as many women in my world for as long as I am God-given to help them.
I'm going to reach back through that tunnel and help these women through. And I'm also going to help those holistic therapists to support their clients in the way they really deeply want to. That's why they do the role they do, that's their calling. But I know many of them feel held back and many of them feel, I can't deal with this. I don't understand. I'm going to help you understand. I'm going to tell you every which way, every experience there's no taboo. When you get involved with talking to me about this topic, let's talk about hair loss. Everybody thinks about your hair. What about how that makes you feel in the shower when you are naked and there is no hair on your body and you have to face up to that reality.
Who's talking about it? Let's talk about it. And who's talking about how you support your clients through that deep, emotional trauma of that one day, they won't tell anybody else. Many people's clients don't feel they can have that conversation. And they, as therapists, don't feel they can ask.
Eleshia: My hands are shaking right now because I'm glad my mom had me to have those conversations with, and she had this small network of friends that she had conversations with. But there were so many women that didn't feel that they could talk.
Rachel: They don't feel they can talk about even the big things. We know about the loss of hair in our heads. They're the big things. They're the things that our office is so many women don't feel that they can talk about that. Stick a wig on it and put up with it, the discomfort and the absolute loss of identity. That loss of identity, believe me it goes way deeper than losing the hair on your head. When this is affecting me, and the biggest thing for me was when I realized my period hadn't arrived. Although I was doing everything around me to support myself, I thrive through that treatment. I had days that my chemo was every three weeks.
There were days when I knew that this is when it's going to kick in, and my mom came, sat with me, and held my hand. They were here to take Harrison to school and back. The schoolroom was too much for me. On those few days, the rest of the time I was excelling when everybody else around me, and even my oncologist, I'd walk in the door and she'd say, there she is. How are you doing this? And I'd say, do you want to know? And they just say, oh no, no we don't want to know.
They didn't want to know. So I was caught in the middle between, as I call them the white camp and the green camp. You need to know what each other was doing, but I was relying on both. So I carved my path right down the middle. That's why integrative practice is so important.
Eleshia: But that's so interesting that you said that they didn't want to know. For me, we would have doctor's appointments every Friday because my mom had to have her blood cells checked. I remember we would go in on a Friday, and they would say that you need to have a blood transfusion and you need to come in on a Wednesday.
And I would fill her up with greens. We would have spinach and all of those really rich green juices, and go back on Wednesday and they'll be like: Ohh, you no longer need a blood transfusion. What have you done? And I would tell them. As you said, you would see their eyes but they didn't want to go into the details.
Rachel: No, and we have to say so I had fired my first oncologist. So this was how this conversation went, with the first oncologist, and luckily my sister-in-law was there to hold me from falling off my chair. I knew that this is his role and he's going to talk to me about the chemo that they're suggesting now. It took me a long time to say yes to it, I didn't say yes straight away. I need to go do the research to know I can back myself up while this is happening which is what I did. I booked my entire family on a plane so we are going to take time out now, and we're going to talk about this and I'm going to tell my husband. I want to tell you what I've learned of how this is going to roll out. My best oncologist, I sat in front of a saint, just out of interest, what's your opinion of how I should best support myself through this? It worked, it did this girlfriend thing, this finger, and said, there's nothing that you could possibly do to help this situation.
I thank him for that. I was furious. I was raging and the boy put fire in my belly, and I fired his ass because I knew I couldn't get back in a room with him. That really put foam in my belly to know, but I know that you're wrong. I know that that's not true. So I found myself and this is what's really important for people to understand going through this process and those holistic therapists that you might have around you that you're supporting, that your support system to also share with them. You can choose who's on your team. As a therapist, you've been chosen but you can also help signpost that person. You can choose who's on your A Team.
No, I had no idea. Nobody's going to tell you about that. And I found this lady who I didn't need anything more than someone that would turn a blind eye, as opposed to giving me reasons all the time not to do it. But even with someone that was prepared to turn a blind eye, when I walked in full sunshine and light, doing the blood tests, these are amazing. I was allowed to get on a plane to Spain to run wellness.
Eleshia: I remember that.
Rachel: The only person she said, I didn't run it. I was supporting, I was running all workshops. We treat it in Spain. There was nobody else that she was going to let go of because my immune system was proving, what's going on here? And every time I would say, do you want to know? And then I started goating him and teasing him every time, do you want to know? Now, here's the thing and this isn't a thing but this has been an incredibly positive influence. My entire life was certainly through this, that when I spoke to him about having this conversation with the oncologist, he said: Rachel, don't go into an Italian restaurant and ask for Chinese. I was like, I'm sorry?
And he said, yes. So you've gone into an oncologist’s office, he's done his life's work around this. Why are you asking him to accept that anything else is okay? That stuck with me. Don't go somewhere and ask for them to believe or do something that is the opposite of what they have spent their life's work leaning into.
Eleshia: And I agree with that. You have to be your own detective. These people are part of your team, but they don't run everything. You are the boss, and this is so important because like you said, we were lucky with our oncologist. He didn't want to know, but he was like: whatever you're doing, keep on doing it.
Rachel: That's all you need. He doesn't need to be involved. He doesn't need to approve that for somebody just to see these results and go, now I didn't know that what I was doing had such a big impact on it. Now, first of all, I am not some Amazonian woman. I have the lowest pain threshold on the planet. I used to be ill constantly. Then I had to make a shift in my world and then we started realizing both me and with little people, they're always bringing stuff home. They're always getting stuff from the nursery. It all slowed down and then it stopped.
But having said that I am not some Amazonian woman, that's all. She just sells for it just because that's not my physiological makeup, that is not my default. However, right at the end of my chemotherapy sessions, I got a bit of a cough. They're always really concerned about you getting everything, any infection. So they said, we'll just keep you in tonight just to make sure you'd get a temperature, just be on the safe side.
And then there was this flurry of excitement. Now, you know when you're on a plane and if it's bumping around a bit and they ask that your desk is still down the middle and they're still chatting and doing all of that, you know you're good. But if they start panicking, that's when you know that it's not okay. So I sat on this bed, in this ward with lots of people, there was tension in the air and there's a lot of actors, like a big sudden hive of activity and whispers talking and that something's not right.
I called the nurse server and I said, what's going on? You're making me really nervous. What's wrong? And she said, oh no It's fine. We just can't find your notes. I said, what notes? She said, from your previous visit. I've never been here before. But she said, what do you mean that you've never been here before? You've had chemos. I said, yes I know but I've never been here. I've never needed to be here. And she's like, call off the search.
Those nurses came and stood around my bed. Now, they were interested and they sat and listened to all the things that I'd been doing, saying none of them had ever met anybody that hadn't been admitted with the risk of, or actually having infections or infections anywhere in my body. And at that point, the penny dropped, and I had my massive monk drop a-ha moment and all the women needed to know about this. All the people in the lives of the women that have a cancer diagnosis need to know this because there is something that I'm doing that has actually just made me different from all the hundreds of women that these nurses have looked after. Now I need to stop getting this on paper and writing this down. And as I said, this was intended to be a book because that was easier. It was easier to keep everybody else's arms land. I don't want to keep being reminded of it. I don't want to keep going through my own experience.
That was then, and that was when it was the book. And what I realized is when I stopped to talk to you and I look you in the eye and I can understand, and we have that connection. And I've done this four times now with these incredible groups of women that they can ask me. You can't ask me a question in a book. Whether it becomes a book ever, I have no idea because for as long as I'm able, I'm going to sit in front of women and share this experience, share what I did, share to all the people that supported me and let them share that out with any woman that walks through their doors. I don't know if I can call them or on the phone. I don't know if I can come, I've had a cancer diagnosis.
And what I also want to support is that feeling of recoil of oh no that scares me too. I knew this. I know how I can support you. I know how I can support you. I know who to signpost you to. I know how to help you live in hope. I know how to help you keep that spark alive and feel well. There are going to be days when we don't feel well but we've got support for that. There are gonna be days when you feel great. Now we know what to do, we're going to do things when we feel good. We are going to keep that hope alive, and we are going to actually change the lives of women that are being diagnosed with cancer.
We are going to change the lives of women before they get diagnosed with cancer. Being well, staying well, understanding what can lead to this, that burnout, all the facts. So that's what I'm doing.
Eleshia: And it's more than needed, and this time is right because I wish that it wasn't just me trying to do this for my mom. But equally, I am happy that I had the information that I had to be able to do what I could in that situation. I just think that there needs to be more sharing. There needs to be more information on looking at your wellbeing, and not telling people that that's your loss. Now go home and deal with that.
Rachel: Absolutely. Is that when you're sent home, you have a tribe of women there to catch you. Or Ant-Man that there is a tribe around you to catch you, to support you, to carry you when you need carrying, to see you on the road when you're ready to go.
Eleshia: Yes, and you made a really valid point. I didn't realize that this was one of the reasons why I had held all of my mom's records. You made a very valid point about having the thesaurus out and actually knowing. I was in it with her trying to support her so I didn't always understand what was being said, but when I was going for her things, I knew that I had to keep these records. So one time, I would be able to look back and actually just do research on some of those large words.
Rachel: This is what I don't understand, the people reading this information that is given are not medics. You're very clear at making sure you feel that you're not on their elevated level. So why hand them any piece of paper that has words on it, then nobody's going to understand why. It's not necessary. So we know that knowledge is power, but actually understanding when, where, and with whom to share that knowledge is wisdom.
There was always this battle between why do you not want me to know and understand? Why do you not want me to know and understand, because I'm sure I'm coming back next week, knowing it and understanding it, and it's going to take me hours to go through it? And what would often take my breath away is that I would go for my appointments, open the door, and be utterly overwhelmed with the throng of women in those rooms.
Eleshia: In the waiting rooms.
Rachel: And just the overwhelm and thinking that I have the ability to speak, I understand what I've been through. I know that I've had this incredible journey that I've been blessed with. I had to do something with that and the only thing I know what to do with that now is to tell other women, because what if nobody in that room ever understood that they could do a few simple things and just feel better through their treatments.
So what if they're experienced with their treatment just wasn't as heroine because it is potentially going to be, and for some women it really really is, and that's just a physical bit. We touched on the emotional bit. The thing that got me was, I know I had all of these things scaffolding around me, but the moment that I realized my period was never coming back and I understood that that treatment was really, really was having an impact on a cellular level. Because it had affected a part of me that was the most deep, that was the deepest point of part of me, and it was over.
So I was in medical menopause pretty much within a few weeks. On top of having the cancer diagnosis, supporting my heartbroken family through it, of knowing I was losing one of the biggest parts of me, because I'm a large breasted lady that was going, is that my periods had now stopped.
I'm not someone that rejoices in my periods. I'd only just got to the point of understanding my cycle and how to work with it, and I was loving that. It wasn't ever an element for me, but it's for so many women about what if I'd wanted to have other children. That was gone. That's a really big thing for some women going through this as well. I have never appreciated the part that would break me knowing my periods weren't ever coming back. And that was really tough because then I'm now an older woman. I have no idea what was coming later with the physical things. I was a swimmer and a surfer at Surf Border. I was fit and active, and I was looking forward to being really fit and active and looking after my son and running around with him with the football. I'm getting back to that place now. That's the place I'm headed.
Eleshia: Wow, just wow. So when you went into medical menopause, did anybody talk to you about that?
Rachel: No, and interestingly, I have an injection now every month which ships my ovaries down to stop the oestrogen because my cancer was oestrogen positive. I'm lucky in a way, because those that have negative cancers, don't get the opportunity to have anything beyond their actual cancer treatment. So I have this injection, and when they talk to you about it, and it's a woman, it's a nurse and it's a different one each time, and I say: Don't ever say just in front of the word menopause, please. If the women that come in this room that’s when I asked about a switch of drugs, I'll get: It's just the same as the other one, just menopause symptoms. Every time I correct every nurse and they look at me and say you're right. You've obviously not been through it yet. They're ever referred to as just menopause.
So going back to your question, no. Other than our amazing friend, Mairi, I'm so blessed to have her in my life. She's opened my eyes to see many things of how we can turn this experience around and the ways we can support ourselves through it. But no, other than Mairi, everybody needs a Mairi in their life to help them support through this. But no, it was just menopause symptoms. Now, those are just menopause symptoms at the start so as well as emotionally recovering from the understanding and not acknowledging my periods have gone, I'm now a menopausal woman. They are never coming back, there's that. And then there is, I'm awake every 45 minutes. I am on fire. I am wet. I had to take the covers off. I've got to take what I've slept with off.
Now I need to wait, now I'm really awake. Now I'm back in bed and I'm just dropping off to sleep, and then there's another one. They make me feel nauseous, and then I'm not sleeping. So you can add the not sleeping irritability and the impact that has on your hormones into all the rest of that experience. But we solved it, me and Mairi, we did with this incredible oil blend that I use. These five oils religiously every night. They're oils that can also support your sleep, so they draw me into a deeper sleep. They support my adrenals, they support my hormones. So I think I may get them but they're much smaller, they're further apart, and honestly, they help through them.
Eleshia: Are you happy to share the oil blend?
Rachel: I am. Absolutely, of course, I am. These are blends from doTERRA. Serenity, balance, basil, patchouli, and copaiba, they're mine. Now, these would need to be tailored to you. So most people can start with that and they might need some tweaking. They are the ones that work for me, and that was life-changing in itself that I could sleep through the night. We heal when we sleep, our organs reset. Some of you may not understand that when you go through chemotherapy, it affects your brain function. It did come back, I was firing on all pistons after that. But it does affect your brain function, so does menopause.
We need to understand that we can be accepting of ourselves. I'm not quite up to speed, but we can also understand that there are ways to help support us and support that brain function, and we can go on and on. That one experience and this is why I want to be able to run these programs again and again and again to have these holistic therapists come to listen to me, talk to me and ask me everything, because if you think all that we've just covered in this conversation will be happening differently to each of their clients. You think how much more deeply they can support their client if they've just understood even the bit that we've just talked about. To know how they're going to feel when they walk through the door, where are they in that experience and how is it rolling out for them? How are they feeling? Now, it's just that one person. What about how their family reacted?
Rachel: What about how the partners are reacting, because some can not handle this and they leave. There were so many women I've supported whose husbands have left. It's such a life-changing experience, and these women need as much support as anybody around them can possibly give. I also believe that they themselves need that support to understand how this works, how this feels, how to protect themselves emotionally so that they can be there and not walk away.
Eleshia: I'm a massage therapist as well, and that's the one thing for me, not knowing how I could support my mom in the touch because of everything that she was on. I needed you at that point, I did my own research and I knew there were elements of things that I could do to support her with that because she was aching as well. But the work you're doing Rachel is so important. I know I've said it, so let's talk a little bit about the program and what you offer for these holistic, which is…
Rachel: The program is seven weeks. There are seven columns. When I need to sit down and work out, how do I share this? And it needs to be simple. It needs to be, I'm not about bamboozling anybody. Absolutely not, it needs to be simple. When I wrote it all down and broke it all down, there were these seven key columns so there are seven weeks. We cover a column each week. I'm there in person delivering all this information. There is an opportunity for as many questions, and that can be in person as a group and then there's me in your pocket. You have me on messenger, so as things come up, and also people can choose to upgrade their program and actually work with me, one-to-one through it. Because then we could be talking about, they may have specific clients right there and then in their world but they're not sure about what about this and what about that and what about finding this kind of support in their area? So we dive in deep then.
What was really interesting for me was that when I first ran this program, I imagined that the women that would be called to it would be the women that had had that diagnosis themselves and fewer. But what really bowled me over, and as I've said over 75% to 80% every time I ran it, was professional women but I wanted to support their clients. So that is what became really apparent to me, and that is how I have the biggest impact with the women around me of other women sharing what I know because they have their clients coming and going all the time. And they have a wider scope of that.
There's a wider amount of their clients, it's not just me speaking to one person but I will always speak to that one person. But this is how this experience of my mission and my message from my trauma, it's so important that we find that, and that you have found that from yours. And that you can speak to that now, and that you're doing what you're doing now and inviting those to talk, but it's also your laying out the invitation for yourself to have these conversations. That invitation is so important, but also to speak to those people who are called to share, share your story because there is always somebody listening and somebody watching feeling that that's me, and that is really, really powerful. I think for me as well, what was so important is if I choose the easy option, if I choose the easy path which pretends it didn't happen, not that you can but pretend as much as you can. It didn't happen, carry on with your life. I would be turning my back on those other women coming down the same path that, like I did, needed that guidance support.
So in this program, that months and months and months and months of my research, it takes seven weeks to go through. There is time to process what I've shared with you because a lot of it takes people aback, knocks them off their seats. There are a number of mic drop moments in there like you've had today going, I never really appreciated that at all. You think about when you do, how different are you going to be able to feel how you respond, how you support somebody that walks through the door with that diagnosis? That's the whole point. I couldn't walk away from those women. What's really important to me is that I ensure particularly right now, on top of their experience, that they're also dealing with this global pandemic.
We're also dealing with women that haven't had their diagnosis when they needed it, because things were slowed down. They maybe haven't had the support that would have been there by the incredible NHS. They were amazing. They're very busy and they are months and months if not years. So from my experiences, I've had my op put back twice for a year each time. That's happening. That's real. It's not happening to everybody. It's not happening in every clinic, but it is happening.
For me, what's really important is that we're also able to offer that support because these women need it now because they haven't had the support they would have had, had the pandemic not happened. Now, we're all in the fallout of that. We're all in the fallout of that. Imagine going through the worst period of your life ever with this diagnosis and having that at the time when there's a global pandemic, when there's so much lockdown, shut down. You're separated from the family that would have supported you through this. There's so much loss and grief. So now the time is so important and this is exactly why I will continue. We will continue to. Feel the impact and effects of living through a global pandemic for many years. That emotional recovery, when we add into that someone has had a cancer diagnosis, I'm not about to close my door, turn off my computer, and walk away. Because I know I have to share what I've learned to as many women as I can so that they can then support their clients through this.
Eleshia: What you said just now with regards to the amount of grief that we've seen, that has not just been about the pandemic, but with regards to people not getting seen or heard, or the treatments that they needed, it's huge.
Rachel: There's been a lot of press around people getting treatment, not getting treatment, not knowing what's true. Only that person going through that experience knows what's true for them, but actually, they've also been denied. The normal support path, the normal support bubbles. All of that, but that is something that we need to pick up with right now.
I wake up every morning thinking, how do I do that? This is the best way for me. The best way that I've found for me to do that is to open up this program and allow people to learn so much more about what this experience means, so they can understand the needs and help fill that part of that need in that person's life.
Eleshia: But also just opening up these kinds of conversations because..
Rachel: I did not to be taboo.
Eleshia: Yes, because it can't be anymore because we're going through it. It is happening. This is happening. You went through it, I went through it as not the person with cancer, but the carer.
Rachel: And you need so much support as you do that. You need so much support as you do that too, of course, you do. It's a very layered and varied experience for every woman. My dream, which is why my favorite song, you asked me about my favorite song. I'm big on supporting other women's dream building but for me, my dream, the famous song was the one from the Greatest Showman, A Million Dreams' keeping me awake, and they do. Because my dream is to gather these women in person. My dream is to gather the therapist in person, is that these seven columns will run as a seven-day retreat where they are supported. Put it out there. Because I really believe that those women in the caring role, need the support too. So for me, I want you to come and learn about this. I want you to come and really dive deep with me about the experience with that person in your life, but I'm going to look after you too. It's important that you have the space and time around your coping strategies and how you put those in place.
Eleshia: But as you said, it's just about knowing that you need your healing too. We all need to heal.
Rachel: Yes, absolutely.
Eleshia: What a brilliant conversation. Wow. I've enjoyed it. I've learned more. I love the fact that you put in both feet and just really get into a place where you're happy to share. Working with other women to honor what they do, but also help them to understand the needs of others. I think I'm emotional because I knew it was a no-makeup day for this conversation, but I'm emotional because I know there've been so many people prior that needed this.
Rachel: Yes, there are. However, that emotion you feel right now about them, that emotion, that drive, that fire in the belly, that is what drives you and supports you through what comes next for you. Through how you support yourself, other women in your circle, people that you know, that feeling. So that feeling that I had about those, the sense of loss, the sense of losing identity, losing a breast, having that diagnosis in the first place, just sitting with that for a little while. Only recently, I took my feet from under me because we go through survival mode and that's what these clients are doing, they're in survival mode.
Eleshia: Because that's where they need to be. But as you said, it took you two years.
Rachel: It took me two years to sit down and actually sit and say to myself, I had cancer. I haven't done that for two years. The first year through treatment, the second year through lockdown of trying to keep my family well, and me well. And actually going through that process of acknowledging all of those emotions which is really important, one of my columns is emotional support and understanding how you can deal with buried emotional trauma. The trauma that's coming up right now, who I signpost you to to help you deal with that. That's really important.
Yes, it's been one hell of a journey. What I refuse to do is to allow that journey to be meaningless. I refuse to allow that journey to not be used for goods. And that's why I say with you, you have the emotional response but I wish I'd known that if we all wish. If we'd known what we know when we're that bit older, but you know what we do with that wish is we change everything from here on. Does it make sense?
Eleshia: Yes, of course. Of course, and that's why I'm here.
Rachel: And you're doing it because you're changing the lives of everyone that hears your voice. You're changing it. You're changing their perception, you're changing their understanding of their own world, of themselves, of how they can deal with something of who they can reach for. You are changing lives one podcast at a time.
Eleshia: Thank you for saying that. So Rachel, tell the listeners where they can find you.
Rachel: You can find me at essentiallyracheluk.com. Everything is there that you need. You can contact me directly. You can read more about what's been going on in my world, and you can read more about this program. If you want to do this as a group, if you want to do this just one-to-one with me, everything is there. And I would love to hear from you and talk to you and help you understand how you can either be supporting yourself or supporting the women in your world.
Eleshia: Thank you so much for being here. Again, as I said, I've loved this conversation. It's brought up a lot of emotions, but it's also brought up just so much knowledge. I know we're going to help other ladies when they get to hear this episode, because you've answered a lot of questions that I had, so thank you.
Rachel: No problem, my love. And we'll always be talking. Thank you so much for having me.
Eleshia: I’m sure it's not going to be the last time you pop on this. There are so many other conversations that I've already started to think about that we need to have. So again, thank you.
Rachel: Amazing. Thank you.
Eleshia: I really hope you found that episode really insightful for you. I know from my perspective, I really did. I've not been able to sit down and have a conversation with somebody who was going through so much. If you know anybody who is going through their own diagnosis, who may need an extra level of support, please share this episode with them. But also share Rachel's information with them as well. I look forward to you joining me again. Until next week, bye-bye.
Jenna and I on the Gold Digger podcast
When Jenna told me the date my episode was going to air, I shrieked and got to work to implement the podcast strategies she shared.